tv [untitled] July 6, 2012 6:30am-7:00am EDT
this lecture by helen lefkowitz horowitz, that we at the institute have been happy since helen accepted our offer to speak last year. this lecture was first conceived of when harvard began planning it's 375th anniversary celebration. the president and i discussed how the radcliffe institute could make an intellectual contribution to this historic occasion. and just as important to the two of us, both u.s. historians, how the history of women at harvard might be well represented in the course of the anniversary year. because drew was very committed to having this lecture today and worked with me to plan it, she wanted to join us here to welcome helen and to welcome all of you. so i'm very pleased to invite up
here now someone who in this crowd needs no introduction. our own harvard president drew faust. [ applause ] >> thank you. i'm just delighted to be here, and i'm delighted to see so many of you gathered and so many familiar faces in the audience. as liz has said, it seemed extremely important to recognize in a very substantial way the place of women in the history of harvard in this, it's first 375 years. and those of you 450 know laurel orricks' work know how vividly she emphasized a decade or more ago that although harvard had not officially had women as part of its student body for many of
its centuries, it nevertheless had women who played important roles in its history from the very moment of its founding. not to mention the most -- not no one here who was anne radcliffe who made a substantial contribution to the college in its earliest days. but women as people cooking and cleaning and making possible the work and study and intellectual life that characterized charge b harvard from it's very outset. i can think of no better to do that an our guest today who liz will come back and introduce in just a minute. i think if we look at the last hundred years, we might be able to look at it in the framework of a narrative of progress for women in this institution. and so i hope there's some lessons that we can draw from helen horowitz's presentation today, some important and
enduring lessons for harvard, about how change does happen. and about how individuals committed to learning an opportunity can make their way into a world that comes increasingly to accept and embrace them. and also some warnings and some perhaps insights about how much work still remains to be done to ensure that harvard is a place fully embracing of all the men and all the women who can contribute to its next 375 years. thank you very much. liz will now come back. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, drew, for your comments and also for joining us here today. tonight's lecture provides a perfect way, in this 375th anniversary year to honor the legacy of radcliffe college,
while also celebrating its successor, the radcliffe institute for advanced study. for at least a century, radcliffe college took responsibility for educating women at harvard. and since the turn of the first century, the radcliffe institute has committed itself to advancing new thinking and research and then sharing both with the broad public, including those of you who are assembled here today. appropriately given our topic today, furthering the study of women, gender and society is one of the institute's intellectual commitments. and we do it through all three branches of the institute. a fellowship program which every year brings 50 female and male scholars and artists to campus. the schlesinger library on the history of women in america. the nation's premiere archival
election on the subject. and what we call academy ventures which sponsors research projects, seminars, conferences and lectures like this one. although radcliffe is no longer an undergraduate college, the institute continues radcliffe's tradition of deep involvement with students. we invite undergraduate and graduate students to meet informally with our public speakers as helen horowitz generously did earlier today. we create opportunities for them to connect with harvard faculty around subject matter but also around challenging and often taboo subjects such as how to balance life and work. we offer the prize and the schlesinger college regularly applies rich materials for student papers. we run a very successful
radcliffe research partners program working with research assistants with our fellows. fostering close, mutually beneficial and also career-shaping mentoring relationships between harvard students and scholars and working artists. and we annually support three graduate students in the final year of dissertation writing and we welcome them into our community of fellows. so although we don't officially have students enrolled at the institute, we delight in having them around us every day, and we consider them along with our foam fellows an important part of our radcliffe alumni community. carrying on the tradition of excellence and loyalty, begun by generations of radcliffe grads, many of whom have joined us here today for this lecture. let me extend a very special welcome to our radcliffe college
alums. [ applause ] this is after all, their history. i also want to tell them and others in the audience so you can spread the word for people who are not able to be with us today, that in the coming weeks, this event will be shared on youtube, itunes and on c-span. i want to close by sharing with you an intriguing aspect of helen's c.v. that conveys, i think, how much imagination, adventurousness and plain chutzpah she brings to work. now, she's nervous. i can see. helen has a category in her vita entitled "work in progress." and it has below, since her 2010 retirement. and she listings the following. number one, stolen. then she has in parentheses, a full-length play. then she indicates she's enjoyed a semistage reading at cal tech very recently april 14th, 2012. item two, past tense.
then in parentheses, a mystery novel. and then three, how americans came to love province, and then parentheses, nonfiction. so what that tells me is that helen has set out a whole new set of challenges for herself in her second career as a retired professor. and that if this career is anything like her first one, broadway, amazon.com and the cute de zure better watch out. we stoond learn what so complicated about those 375 years at harvard. helen give her lecture. then we should have sometime for questions. then you're all invited to a reception downstairs and a look that was created to go along
with the lecture. so, helen, i welcome you to the podium. >> you're a rascal. good afternoon. can you hear me? you can hear me. good. i was once privileged to hear an older friend's memories of the halve verdict tersentenry. a writer without a day job, he was hired by the president james jamesis conan. my friend's task was to manage the correspond for the conference for the 300th anniversary. throughout his long life, he was a mischievous person and he took the 300 as a special
opportunity. he created an elaborate hoax, a fictitious correspondence from an imaginary russian delegate. he wrote that he was brings his mistress to his setting, not only did he want all her expenses to be paid, she must be invited to all events. the threatened scandal -- remember, this was cambridge in the 1930s sent the president's office in a tizzy. six years later, my friend enjoyed how he hoodwinked harvard's president by this hoax of using paper rubbed with dirt. when the harvard administration had to consider entertaining the presence of a woman. the conference produced a book of its papers.
authority and the individual. its preface presented the goal of the gathering. to put on one platform, and i quote, three groups of eminent men who contributed to the common understanding of the vast problems of human behavior. and men they were. and men they considered. google books allows the word search of the book's 371 pages. there are 75 mentions of men. 55 of man. there are two mentions of women and one of woman. the first mention of women is by wesley kerr mitchell, the great economist and husband of radcliffe graduate lucy sprague mitchell who is the first dean of berkeley and the founder of the school. in the paper, she woke about liberty's need to be tempered by
justice. quote, later revelations of the exploitation of child workers, of young persons and also of women led to further protective legislation. in this instance, women were classed with children as needing special state protection. now, the second mention of women came in the lecture, a professor corrado genie of the university of rome. he sought to promote a broader international understanding by suggesting relativism when it came to judging other societies. when's no conflict between the authority and the individual. and he gave the example, although outsiders may, quote, lament the condition of certain people who they regarded as crushed under the heel of authority. for example, this is frequently the attitude of women in many past and present societies.
they accept the position without any sacrifice and regard themselves as completely free. so genie presented women as an example of a seemingly oppressed group who were not by the standards they shared with others in the culture oppressed. finally, my favorite. the sole mention of woman in the singular. robert macgyver gave her a passing mention with society, objects, folklore and practices were viewed with meaning. the express of a fishing ex exhibition is much as that. this is example of that boo. the success of the conference might have been thus endangered. well, it didn't happen, except for women's contact with typewriter keys, no woman's
touch was allowed. moreover, women's participation in a larger event seems distinctly segregated. radcliffe mounted three exhibits in the buildings on the history of radcliffe, the work of women in science, and books written by alumni. three radcliffe officers were allowed to attend as delegates, and radcliffe gave a dinner for women's college heads and representatives. the only direct active participation of women was the inclusion of present and former female members of the coral society and a tersen tenry course. it seems the need to provide sopranos and altos without the ghastly 18th century french solution overrode in this particular instance. well, times have changed, and i'm here to recognize the sweet
of this change and try to understand it. i'm somewhat of pan outsider, for the exception of my one-year job at what is now the schlesinger, and my job at the teaching. i've lived and worked outside of harvard. was a fellow at the radcliffe institute, as you know and continue today my long and happy association with the schlesinger as a reader. of course, i've studied and written about higher education in women's colleges. so my talk today will focus on these things. and i want you to pay attention for it really is complicated. i'm going to talk about origins and exclusion. history and tradition. prestige and privilege. innovation, access, accommodation and invisability. and struggle and equity. let me begin with origins and exclusion.
i don't think it really began as a taboo, but rather as professor genie suggested, though perhaps exaggerated as part of the social order of the time generally unquestioned by women as well as men. but origins are critical for they can have great sticking power. in considering harvard, the question then becomes what have been the lasting effects of harvard's founding in 1636 as an all-male institution of higher learning? and in asking this, i don't deny, as drew as reminded us, that women have always been in harvard as workers and donors as invisible help mates to fathers, husbands and sons, not only as life's mainstay but as intellectual collaborators. but yet, the heart of harvard as an educational institute is the
college of college and professor schools. students, faculty, dean, presidents and fellow overseers are at the center. so today, my concern will be with these. to the disappointment of some, my focus is on bodies, not minds. with women as a presence, not with women as subjects of study. for though i've given much 6 my life to the study of women's history and the development of women's studies, i've only a short time with you this afternoon. the rich history of the entry of women into the curriculum of harvard must be postponed until another time. one cannot really think about exclusion in the abstract. at harvard, the exclusion of women at the founding didn't act alone to shape its history. connected to exclusion by a silken cord were tradition and privilege. as we know from this very occasion, harvard has a long history, going back to 1636.
initially founded to educate an all-male clergy, by the 18th century, harvard was offering polish to the sons of the rising mercantile elite. their worldly success meant the association with harvard required an authority, a certain cachet. during the early industrial revolution of the 19th century, boston blue blood and harvard rose together. i remember at the time when levert saltonstahl has the president. it was commemorating ten generations from the 1620s. this legacy of harvard's prestigious male past is perpetuated in the names on the houses on the river with power.
harvard from farming families, in a lower ranks of the middle class. unlike their elite peers who were more interesting in play, they studied hard and were not liked by the men in the class. for the outsiders it was a way to rise in the world and to gain knowledge, not to confirm state us. when they graduated, they were grateful for the boost that harvard had given them. of course, as well as harvard growing sons, the families had daughters, they were not able to enter harvard, but they had what they had been told to value, position and privilege. and this complicated bringing women into the core of harvard. so now, i want to talk about access. the women who started knocking to doors of harvard were
generally not salten stahles or lowells, they were daughters of the struggling middle class, often school teacher seeking instruction in science. they were thrown crumbs. access to a lecture or a lab now and then. the demand was certainly there. when harvard opened its university lectures in 1963, women flocked to attend, by 1870, women were 72% of the students attending the lectures. but the lectures were suspended in 1872, when harvard established the graduate department and it was all male. so innovation. perhaps you don't know it. but a harvard daughter was responsible for the first correspondence course in the u.s. and it focused on women as its faculty and student body. here i draw on the wonderful work of sally shwager, anna
tickner was the daughter of privilege. she was the sister of charles william elliott. harvard's president beginning in 1869. anna tickner decided to act and in 1873 with her mother, called together a group of women to form the society to encourage study at home. many women with both harvard and civic connections including elizabeth agasy, were associated with the society, as supporters and teachers and division heads. the goal was to educate those girls unable to attend college due to a lack of money or to domestic duties. a secondary goal was to provide as shwager put it, an outlet for the instructors for their own
goals and social needs. this society began small but within two years had 20 had 213 students. from 24 states and canada. at its peak, over 1,000 students were enrolled. the reading came from harvard courses and the work required monthly written reports. that included abstracts and essays, and memory notes. alice james was one of the students, the sister of william and henry. at the very same time, a group of women including elizabeth agosy, began to push back against harvard's exclusion of women. in 1872, the women's educational
association of boston was formed. they included the wife of a young fill aphilospher, as theyt entry to harvard by various means they met resistance. and reported, we were told not to disturb the present system of education, which is the result of the wisdom and experience of the past. and bares so large a part in the molding of our republican life. although they began to get support from harvard professors, all male, of course. the president was deeply opposed and so was the all male harvard corporation. what was the objection? here must one return to origins, history, tradition and privilege. as the women of the educational
association learned, in the late 19th century, harvard saw itself as a nursery for the nation of leadership and scholarship. although harvard men were general sympathetic to the idea of educated women, who as mothers of the republican and teachers bore responsibility for the young. they did not want women to study at the sacred grove reserved for the future ruling elite. the scarce precious resources should not be dissipated. some worried about the morale harm of coeducation. oddly, from today's perspective, young college men agreed, this essentially came from a class bias. elite men set the tone of under graduate life at harvard in the 19th century and the women came
from modest backgrounds. bringing the dispised outsiders. gradually by starts and stops, a way was found. and this was by shear innovation. create a new institution tore -- for women, and place it near harvard and get the teachers to teach the same courses that they taught men in the yard. in fall 1879, the women's school opened with 27 students. familiarly called the annex, it was a curious institution. it was supported by women and men who were in awe of harvard. as it's opening announcement
said, quote, the relation to the world outside is maturity of thought and methods. its claim on cultivated minds everywhere give us a hold to respect and affection shared by women and men. all rolls other than as donors, help meets or clerical and library assistants and servants were the only way that some wanted women involved in harvard. the words of the lady of the executive committee said it stirs no prejudices or involves no change of policy for the university. and this brings us back to elizabeth agacy, the woman who smoothed the way, and with others of the ladies committee,
raised the money necessary for the annex's opening in 1879. the price was invisiblity. the annex began with no building. only rented rooms. for classes taught by members of the harvard faculty. the young women, according to an early brochure quietly pursue their occupation unnoticed. there were to be no dorms or college life. they did not want the annex to be another women's college. so it began as a unique institution of higher learning for women. and like the other six of the sisters that it joined in the time. had no separate faculty or facility, drew on the male instructors of harvard. over 200 women were taking courses taught by 70 men.
initially graduates received no b.a.. instead of a diploma, they got a certificate. admittedly, association with harvard carried great prestige that was an advantage and i believe a curse. for it made the annex, a hostage to harvard. as early as 1883, the society decided to raise $100,000 to accept it as a branch of the university. and harvard refused. and they refused to turn certificates to diplomas and refused to recognize the annex in any way. that means that it had the ability to forbid the teachers to teach anyone in the annex. they seeked a new contractual relation. again, this was